By Donald Wittkowski
For the second time in four weeks, Ocean City’s public housing agency has rejected construction bids that came in significantly higher than its proposed $4.2 million senior citizens complex.
Four competitive bids ranging from about $5.5 million to $5.8 million were submitted June 28 by companies vying for the Ocean City Housing Authority’s construction contract.
The authority, however, rejected the bids and now plans to negotiate directly with the contractors for a price closer to $4.2 million.
“By law, we are able to negotiate,” said Bob Barr, the Ocean City councilman who also serves as chairman of the housing authority’s board of commissioners.
On June 1, the authority rejected the first set of bids. Only two contractors bid on the project at that time. Their bids ranged from $5.7 million to $5.8 million.
The authority then sought a second round of bids. Now that the latest batch of bids has been rejected, the agency is free to begin negotiating with contractors for better prices.
Bidders in the second round included Fabbri Builders, of Vineland, N.J., $5,497,478; Gary F. Gardner Inc., of Medford, N.J., $5,617,000; TN Ward Co., of Ardmore, Pa., $5,730,000; and Levy Construction Co. Inc., of Audubon, N.J., $5,848,600, according to a list released Monday by the housing authority.
Barr noted that the housing project won’t be delayed because the authority adjusted its schedule to include the possibility that it would have to seek new bids or enter into negotiations to get a lower price.
“We are right where we thought we would be,” he said. “It was all built into the timeline.”
The authority hopes to begin construction by year’s end and have the project completed by late 2019.
The proposed project will include 20 units of affordable housing for senior citizens. It will replace the authority’s flood-prone Pecks Beach Village senior citizens housing complex on Fourth Street.
Pecks Beach Village was swamped by storm waters from Hurricane Sandy in October 2012, underscoring the need to build new housing in a location less vulnerable to flooding. It continues to suffer from flooding during storms and even in high tides, said Jacqueline Jones, the authority’s executive director.
The new two-story building will be constructed on what is now a parking lot adjacent to the authority’s Bayview Manor housing complex at Sixth Street and West Avenue. Funding for the project comes from a federal Hurricane Sandy recovery grant.
Pecks Beach Village also includes a 40-unit complex for low-income families. That part of Pecks Beach will remain open after the new project is built. Jones said the family section of Pecks Beach sits on slightly higher land than the senior citizens complex and does not flood as much.
The Ocean City Housing Authority uses federal funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to provide affordable housing for low-income senior citizens, families and the disabled at its Pecks Beach Village and Bayview Manor facilities.